How many people have had the experience in the last few weeks of going to a store to get some much needed supplies or food items only to find the shelves empty? Feelings of disappointment, frustration and even anger have become commonplace. In the gospel for Easter Sunday Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, the beloved disciple go to Jesus' tomb only to find it empty...
...ok, it may be a stretch to compare the empty tomb to an unsuccessful shopping trip. But what the heck, we're in the middle of a national emergency. Everything we read, hear and see has something to do with the Coronavirus pandemic that has uprooted our lives for now. We have celebrated this Lent, this Holy Week and now Easter in a different way this year than we ever have before. Masses have been suspended, we've been watching liturgies online or on TV, and we have been deprived of the Eucharist, the central part of our faith lives. We have lost work, school, time with friends and family, enjoying sports and entertainment; businesses have been put in jeopardy. Lives have been lost. Many lives.
We have experienced empty churches, empty streets, empty restaurants, empty theaters. We have filled our suddenly empty days with distance learning, ZOOM chats, social media, comfort food, binge-watching TV shows, phone calls to old friends and family members (I hope). We have had to get used to keeping our distance from one another and wearing gloves and masks in public. We, like the Israelites on that first Passover, have had to stay in our homes to protect ourselves and loved ones while a plague moves throughout the land.
Yet we find ourselves on this Easter Sunday celebrating with joy the fact the Christ is risen from the dead! Though this Easter is one like no other, it is still the same Easter that we always celebrate. It is the same Jesus who died on the cross and rose on the third day to save us from our sins. It is the same empty tomb that gives us not disappointment and frustration but awe and wonder that Christ is risen from the grave. It is the same Alleluia! that we can now sing after fasting from it for the 40 days of Lent.
And it is that Alleluia that we will sing when we can gather together again in the house of God, the church, after fasting from gathering, from holding hands, from embracing and sharing signs of peace, and from the Body of Christ, apart from the Spiritual Communion that has sustained us through this crisis.
Empty shelves? Empty restaurants? They'll be filled again one day.
Today our hearts are already filled with the joy of Resurrection. Because Christ is truly risen from the dead! Alleluia!
To you and your families, on behalf of the entire St. Francis de Sales parish family, I wish you a Happy and Healthy Easter!